Discord brewing in Florina

Greece yesterday protested to the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia’s diplomatic mission in Athens over the planned participation of FYROM’s deputy Parliament speaker in a potentially controversial meeting in northern Greece. Chief of mission Blagoj Hajinski was summoned to the Foreign Ministry after it was announced that Liljana Popovska would be attending, in her official capacity, the third international meeting of Civil War refugees from what the FYROM-based organizers call Aegean Macedonia, that opens today in Florina. Reports from Skopje late yesterday said Popovska would still be attending the meeting, but unofficially. A number of Slavic-language speaking native Greeks fought with Communist forces during the 1946-49 Civil War, hoping to carve out an autonomous state from Greece’s northern province of Macedonia. After the Communist defeat, they went into exile in Yugoslavia and many still live in FYROM. In June, Athens decided to lift a decades-old ban on the exiles’ return, allowing 20-day visits between August 10 and the end of October.